We have a greenhouse!
One of the things I was most excited about on our new property was the prospect of finishing the greenhouse that the previous owners had started. Being in a temperate region, we’ve definitely got some seasons here in Kentucky. We are located on the border of USDA Zone 6 and USDA Zone 5. For you non-plant people, that means that it gets kinda cold here in the winter and if we want to extend our growing season we’ll need a finished greenhouse. Completing this project means that we’ll be able to start seedlings earlier in the year and transplant them outside as the temperatures warm up. It means that we’ll be able to continue growing plants later in the fall and early winter. It means that we may be able to produce lettuce, spinach, chard, and such all year. It means that we can have our aquaponics set up. And it means that our lemon and lime trees won’t die.
A little about the greenhouse, as we inherited it:
– it’s on a 21′ by 21′ concrete pad
– it has 2 sides built, but no roof or front
– it has a couple of drains and what appear to be heating elements installed in the floor
– it has water pipes in every corner
– it has an electrical box ready to be hooked up on one side.
– it has all of the panels that need to be installed, but they’re lying in the barn
– it has the roof trusses to create the roof, but they’re lying in the field
I’m not sure why the former owners stopped where they did. They had lovely gardens and obviously could’ve made use of a greenhouse. They bought all of the materials, made the sides, even welded the roof trusses together (but didn’t put them up). But they did buy all of the materials and sold them to us with the property. And they created a wonderful footprint for us to build on.
A little about the construction materials. The sides, front, and roof of the greenhouse are made from 2″ x 4″ steel tubing. The panels called PolyGal and are made by a company in the UK. There is one storm door providing access to the greenhouse.
The first problems we encountered were attaching the roof trusses and constructing a front to the building. I have not welded since Career Orientation class in high school. I’m pretty sure Lindsey has never welded. I’m also positive that we do not own welding equipment. Since I didn’t want our new greenhouse to fall down and since I’m loathe to operate machinery with the capacity to melt metal when I have scant understanding of how to use said machinery, we decided that hiring a welder would be a good idea.
Around here, welders come in pairs. And they argue with each other. A lot. All day. And they attempt to get you to settle their disputes. Yay! But they were good welders and completed the job in one day for a few hundred dollars. I think that’s a pretty good price for an entire greenhouse, and I’m willing to not attempt it myself when I can watch someone who knows what they’re doing do the job right.
The welders and I spent about 10 hours one day putting the roof trusses up, installing the roof beams, and putting a front on the building. They did a great job. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come back for free and help us put all of the panels on. That took a long time.
Putting the plexiglass panels on the greenhouse was fairly straightforward. It was just time consuming. Especially the roof panels. Holding a roof panel straight and level, drilling the holes, changing bits, and screwing in the screws is hard to do with only 2 hands with 15-plus feet in the air. I was always tempted to use one hand to hold onto something. Silly me.
Anyway, we got all of the roof panels on, installed all of the side panels, and then cut the pieces for the front of the building.
With the building suitable enclosed in plexiglass, we set about installing the door. We found a storm door in the barn near the panels. If it wasn’t originally intended for greenhouse use, then it was co-opted. It’s on there now. We also put in a closer so that the door can be propped open on warm days to help ventilate the building.
Next task in the greenhouse: putting in the trellis for our climbing beans and fruits and finding something to use for holding the fish we’ll get in the early spring.
Enjoy the pictures and the movie! (Rated PG: Parental Guidance. Mom – I was safe at all times in the following pictures)